Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Few Words About Blog Comments

This writing tip is primarily for bloggers.

One of the best ways to grow your blog's audience is to read and leave comments on other blogs in your niche. It keeps you current on the thinking and ideas of other bloggers in your space, it gives you ideas for your own content, and if you write comments worth reading, it will draw readers to your site.

But there's a right way and a wrong way to handle blog comments.

Comment Don'ts:
Don't leave content-free comments. If you write "Great post!" or "I agree!" without any elaboration, you're wasting pixels.

Don't leave sycophantic comments. Another pixel-waster is the long-winded comment that essentially says "I agree! And you are great!" in several sentences.

Don't over-comment. Never comment on the same blog for more than two posts in a row, even if your comments are earth-shatteringly interesting. You will still sound like a sycophant.

Don't bother to comment on a post unless you are one of the first 10 or 15 commenters. The number of readers who will actually read your comment declines dramatically once you fall out of the top ten. Wait for a better opportunity. If this blogger gets that many comments, he or she is likely to write many more insightful posts in the future. You can comment on those instead.

Comment Do's:
Do leave compliments. There's a difference between complimenting someone and being a sycophant. If you can't tell the difference, try not to leave too many compliments.

Do disagree, respectfully, and articulate the thinking behind your disagreement. This is how productive discussions get started. If you have a well-thought out and concise disagreement, you are doing the blogger and all of his readers a favor by sharing it. Moreover, these types of comment draw readers to your blog.

Do ask questions. "I agree with your point on X, but have you thought about Y?" is a great example of a friendly comment that adds insight to the discussion.

Do take the discussion further. Add additional reasons supporting the writer's argument, or apply the insights in the post to additional subject areas.

Do include an easy-to-follow link to your blog. When I leave comments on the food blogs I read, I always write both my name and my blog name in this format:

Casual Kitchen

Now for the hard part: you have to write creative and interesting content to keep those new readers!